Daffodil Is Born
lot of people believe the cultivation of daffodils began in the Puyallup
Valley to take the place of the Valley's first lucrative crop, the growing
Hops were first planted around 1865, and made millionaires of many valley
farmers. The sudden and permanent demise of hop growing in the Valley
came in the 1890's because of hop aphids and mildew (mildew
The first real "crop" of daffodils in the Valley was planted
around 1910 by George Ward Lawler, who had a Gardenville (where the Poodle
Dog Restaurant stands now in Fife). He sold the cut flowers at a road-side
stand, and they were very popular, especially with the latest phenomenon,
Sunday drivers in their newfangled horseless carriages (does that mean
we can credit George Ward Lawler with the first traffic jam in this area?).
the early 1920's, Lawler's plantings had grown to 15 acres at North Puyallup,
and later he moved to Roy where he planted more than 100 acres on the
banks of the Nisqually River.
In 1924, one of the most innovative and far-seeing farmers in the Valley,
W. H. Paulhamus, called a meeting of local farmers interested in knowing
more about bulbs - and the infant industry was born. Among those who planted
the first bulbs in the Valley were Frank Chervenka, H.F. Gronen, L.M.
Hatch; and the Orton brothers, Ed and Charles.
Almost as soon as it was born, the bulb industry spawned the Puyallup
Valley Bulb Exchange in 1926, which worked closely with local farmers
to market their daffodil products. The mild climate and deep soil of the
Valley combined to produce blooms two to three weeks ahead of imported
bulbs. Florists wishing to force bulbs for early markets in mid-winter
soon were using these early bulbs from the Puyallup Valley.
Washington state as a whole produces 20 percent of the daffodil bulbs
grown in the United States and scientists from the Western Washington
Research and Extension Center have been a contributing factor to that
Still, the industry is not what it used to be. Where once the Valley supported
40 daffodil bulb farmers, today there are five. Where once the Valley
was a carpet of gold each spring, attracting visitors and tourists by
the thousands, few daffodils are left to bloom today.
A few "mother blocks" still are permitted to bloom, but the
advent of the cut flower industry in recent years has limited the wide
panorama of blooming fields. During the past few decades, also, the bulb
acreage here has plummeted from over 1,000 to less than 400 acres, largely
due to commercial and residential development.